Discipline and conflicts with children – a minefield for the adults

back to childhoodOverhearing a snippet from a documentary on Lady Dianna, as I whisked the dust cloth over the television, I heard one of the contributors make this comment; “why do we pretend that the gap between childhood and adulthood is so big when in fact it is very tiny?”  The comment has plagued my conscious thinking today and no doubt caused a stir in the sub-conscious and shadow so aptly explained by Carl Jung.

And if we were to accept this view that the gap between adult and child is so very tiny it would follow that those pesky little critters we call triggers would have us be back in pigtails and school shirts in an instant.  After some years in the counselling room, on both sides of the couch and just from my everyday life I must agree.  It is not so much that there are many triggers or that triggers have a great mysterious power.  Rather, that this gap between adult and the unresolved child is in fact so tiny or more accurately put, so obscure, that it does not really take much of a potion to conjure up a time warp or dreaded portal that has us back in the past in a flash.

As things turned out, subsequent events in the day conspired to have me delve a little deeper into this narrowing gap.  Specifically, a conversation about child discipline became the launch pad for me to consider the question raised in the documentary.  While my conclusions are valid only in the space decorated by my brunette locks, I decided to record them here.

I am unashamedly a disciplinarian and quite resigned about it.  At least two of my siblings are the same way and we know which apple tree we have not fallen too far from.  We have at least rolled some distance I would hope but in essence the protruding root still has us know from whence we hail.  For my children’s sake, I hope that it is tempered with a balance of wisdom and the critical ingredient of compassion.

Outside of the relationship between biological parent-child disciplining another whole fascinating world exists.  A world of triggers, hooks, blind spots, tactics and age-old survival mechanisms.  Of course it all exists inside the biological relationship too.  I see and catch myself trying desperately to avoid what my parents did at times while at other times I am awfully proud to be following what was handed  down to me.  All of it completely subjective in essence … when it suits us, what our parents did was good and when it does not we declare indignantly we will never be guilty of the same and stand nobly as martyrs against those who perpetuate such evils.

Outside the biological parent-child relationship this subjectivity reaches exponential levels and reveals the reality beneath the seemingly inactive volcanoes we all are.  At every school, parents moan with teachers when they discipline children.  In every family, parents have fall-outs when grandparents, aunts and uncles admonish their children.  And sadly, many a step-family breaks apart in the name of “disciplining the kids.”

I trust that as a reader you would have the assurance that the realm of abuse is not dealt with in this article.  The abuse of children is a disease and needs to be dealt with inside the appropriate framework.    Also, the nature of the punishment and  the events surrounding the discipline are all up for discussion.  As a mother, I have investigated a number of interludes in the classroom and had a few discussions with teachers.  I have also supported many punishments and supervised the writing of lines.

I am attempting here to raise the awareness that our reactions to the discipline of and conflicts around our children are firmly rooted in our childhood experience of discipline and conflict.  While we are all aware that our offspring represent (especially in the early years) our inner child and most often the unresolved inner child, we lose sight of the extent to which we are dealing with ourselves and our past while we are in the present.  We lose sight of the extent to which others are dealing with themselves and their unresolved inner child while we think things are pretty clear.

I have observed adults and I have observed the children.  I have observed what is apparent and wondered about what is not apparent.  I have observed myself and analysed the triggers and the projections.  I watched the upsets, the tempers flairs and barriers to healing.  From the playground to the living room there is always a common thread.  The children and the presenting problem fade into background while the adults have it out.  Not long thereafter and almost always there is a breakdown in relationship between the adults – both of them doing what they wanted to do when they were nine or doing what their parents should have done when they were five.  Neither of them have the capacity to avoid slipping through the portal beyond that tiny gap between adult and child.

In the realisation of how tiny this gap really is, I recognise that the primary issue is almost never what one is dealing with.  The misdemeanour of the child in the present is hardly ever the focus of the discussion.  At best, we could perhaps hope that a high-level of self-awareness will be met with a willingness to resolve.  Realistically, we are cautioned to remember that the gap between adult and child is not as great as we would like to believe.  As such, the discipline of a child or any conflict around a child launches an adult to the world as it existed for them at that age.  And whoever it was that caused their upset then is who the other adult becomes in that moment.  This is known as projection.  Your attempts at dealing with the child are all filtered through the inner-child who perceived the world as unfair, cruel, embarrassing and not-the-way-I-want-it.  Whether the teacher, the grandparent or the step-parent, your goalposts have shifted from dealing with the child of the present to dealing with the child of the present and their parent’s inner child of the past.  It is worth noting that the child of the past has been unsuccessfully trying to change the world of then for years and you now appear to be yet another obstacle in their quest.

In considering the idea that this gap between childhood and adulthood is very  tiny and knowing how much our children represent our inner child, I am realising what we actually take on when we engage with and care for other people’s children.  It has also made me realise that a highly charged relationship between adults is most likely set ablaze quite simply with the conflict over a child – however it may look.

Whether a peaceful relationship that became tense or a tense relationship that exploded as a result of a conflict around a child, it is worth remembering how tiny the gap between adult and child is and how easily our inner child is triggered by the events around our children.

You took the post right out of my blog … or is it our blog?

It is incredible how many times I have seen a post on a blog or a website which seems to capture my exact thoughts and feelings on a subject or an experience. Normally, I am elated because it means someone has gone through the trouble of capturing my thoughts and expressing my emotions. When they add a great graphic it is a bonus and it adds to my “gems along the way” collections. Although not often, there are times when I feel like they stole my words and cheated me out of expressing it myself. Lately, I am seeing it very differently.

Extremely trying times over the last year have led me to do some intense inner work. Financial challenges and a second divorce have wreaked havoc with fibromyalgia flare ups. These are but a few of the challenges which conspired to direct me to a very dark night of the soul. Thomas Moore in his book Dark Nights of the Soul so aptly describes my experience that I would struggle to choose a quote since every line resonates. However, the post “a different kind of wise” suggests where I am headed here. In this dark night of my soul I was forced to change my intelligence.

I was led through a series of “coincidences” to many great teachers. Among them were the likes of Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson, Neil Donald Walsche, Gary Zukav and of course Thomas Moore. Sure enough my intelligence changed.

I came to realise how incredibly connected we all are. The extent to which we perceive ourselves as different and separate – black and white, rich and poor, young and old, good and bad seemed more and more bizarre as my understanding opened up. This journey is not an easy one and reading through the chapters on quantum physics required some discipline. The journey is however also very magical. More and more evidence for our deep connectedness manifested. My thoughts and feelings were expressed by others with uncanny accuracy. I found it so much easier to relate to others with complete authenticity but little effort. There were also some intense connections that might have been astral travel or premonition (see the post on Beyond Difference – touching souls).

There is a developmental stage in the life of a toddler where we learn about same and different, me and you. Of course this is necessary and helpful. It is the way we learn not to take Jonny’s lollipop and understand that it’s Suzy’s turn now. Unfortunately, it seems we never move beyond that stage once the purpose of that stage is achieved. We go on focussing on yours and mine and never get to experience “ours”. The authors I have mentioned above all teach about our connection as human beings. Such terms as non-local intelligence, absolute reality, source, high consciousness and non duality all point to our interconnectedness. At the lowest level of thought I see all that is different between us. With more evolved intelligence, the boundaries appear more as mere illusions of the world of relativity. These authors all refer (in some or other way) to the profound work of CG Jung known as the Collective Unconscious.

I now understand why I am seeing my posts on your blogs and why you see yours on mine. The stranger who captures my thoughts with eerie accuracy is no stranger at all. She is intimately known to me and to my experience in our connectedness. The post I have been meaning to write and which will appear in a few days’ time is already being brought into the world of the here and now by an individual I am deeply connected to. I may never meet him but I know him.

Perhaps, with this awareness, it is less a case of my posts on your blogs or your posts on my blog and more a case of the posts of all the world on our global blog. It is given to the writers to record the thoughts. It is given to the musician to sing our songs. It is given to the painter to colour our story. It is given to the dancer to portray our lives. It is given to poets to record our praise and our lamentations.

And so it is that we find ourselves expressed everywhere ….

Inspired by being uninspired – uncovering fate

On a blog called the Times Between it would make sense to write about feeling uninspired. Just like the times that are between events can seem pretty flat, so the feeling of being uninspired can leave one feeling somewhat deflated. As I reflected on the feeling of being uninspired I asked myself a Jungian type of question. What is this bringing up for me? What does it bring up for all of us when we feel uninspired and think we have nothing to write about, no thoughts to capture and nothing of interest to share in our online journals. I no sooner asked these questions when I could feel the beginnings of a stirring happening and dashed to my writing area. Please join me and let’s see what happens here …zen garden What does the period of non-inspiration look and feel like? For me, there are physical signs like the fact that my writing desk has become a storage area for things I am meaning to pack away. Other physical signs include busyness and focus on the beckoning of the outside world. Psychologically, it means that I am preoccupied with doubt and self-limiting beliefs. Each of us have our own set of self-limiting beliefs that operate during the periods of low or no inspiration. Those beliefs are part of a very complex framework which we cannot delve into here. They include everything from our relationship with our parents (primordial relationships) to the purpose and intention for which we created our blog (conscious choices we make) in the first place. In my case, I enjoy writing and use it as a tool for self development and engaging with my creative, intuitive self. I choose to blog it or make it public because I am a social being who enjoys connection with others. Sharing my writings have proved helpful for others from the feedback I get and this satisfies the teacher and counsellor aspects of my makeup. I am Jung at Heart – meaning that my psyche or soul finds much of its answers through the teaching of Carl G Jung. These teachings reveal that we are often driven to do things and not to do things by forces that we are unaware of. That is a scary thought right. A famous quote by Carl Jung says;

“Until you make the unconscious, conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate”

With this context in mind, I look at the alleged fate that I have nothing to write about and nothing valuable to say. I take a deeper look and my alleged fate that I have no time and my desk is a mess. I consider the alleged fate that I am wasting my time with writing while I should be earning money. I am willing to consider my alleged fate that “I am too bloody deep and complicated for my own good” and that people will never understand what I am on about. Shooo – that is a big one and now I am having a “felt sense” that I might have stumbled onto something. But now let me pause and be sure you are taking this journey with me as any proper Zen Garden Hostess would do. Have you thought about some of your alleged fates? What do you make up about your world during the moments of low inspiration? What alleged fates have you used to conclude that the world and life is happening to you? Take a breath …………… and another nice deep breath in and out ………………. Ahhhhhhhh!   Now see what comes up. zen meditate Now, are you willing to look a little deeper and consider the possibility that you are happening to your life. Those forces, thoughts, beliefs, memories in the unconscious are playing out a movie and you are are calling it low inspiration. Nice deep breath – ahhhhhhhhhhh.

This is what comes up for me – My desk is in a mess and become a storage area because in my unconscious I have a belief that I am taking up too much space. The space I am using can be used for something more useful, more constructive, more valuable and definitely more than anything I have to offer. I have no time because I really feel guilty about having the time and the space to write, when there are women older than I am walking the streets looking for work. (Some martyr archetype playing out there I guess). I think that I am wasting my time because I have an old memory that “time is money” from a father who was known to have the Midas Touch. In many ways my Alchemist Archetype is (in Jungian terms) a compensation response pattern to my father’s focus on material wealth. Ooooooo -another insight that just popped up. I am really writing this as its happening and I am starting to feel a bit vulnerable now which is an indicator that I have entered the shadow. Enter Dori – Just keep swimming! Just keep swimming! My thought that I am too much, too deep, too complicated is a very old wounding which we know will keep replaying itself throughout the soul’s journey. It is rooted in the inability to unconditionally love oneself and that, as we all know, is a life long journey. We only ever reach pit stops along the way with many dark nights of the soul in between. To the extent that we are willing to engage our illusive and most often insidious shadow, we will engage the process of understanding and accepting of our Self.

How did you do? Make any discoveries about your alleged fates which you invent during your low periods? I would love to hear about it – leave a comment if you are comfortable with that. Thank you for taking the journey with me and being present as I unpacked my alleged fate to discover just how much I have created it. Things are not going to change magically and I am guaranteed of low inspiration days in the future. On those days however, I will be conscious of what is going on in my unconscious and I will not be calling it fate and playing the victim. The awareness will be enough to shift my perception.

Much blessing and love,

Michelene